Atlanta Falcons fans will watch the NFC title game and be painfully reminded as to what could have been.
Both head coaches going up against each other in the NFC title game were staff members on the Atlanta Falcons just three short seasons ago, when they lost in Super Bowl LI. Fans can only imagine what might have been since then, had the Falcons retained either Kyle Shanahan and/or Matt LaFleur.
The Atlanta Falcons have fallen on hard times since their 2016 SuperBowl loss. Since then, they have compiled a regular-season record of 24-24. For a team loaded with so much talent, especially on the offensive side of the ball, it is unacceptable.
Dan Quinn inexplicably hired Steve Sarkisian as offensive coordinator following the biggest collapse in SuperBowl history. Sarkisian last two seasons. The offense was nowhere near as prolific as with him calling plays.
Both head coaches in the 2019 NFC championship game were members on the Falcons staff for two seasons – 2015 to 2016.
Kyle Shanahan was the offensive coordinator for two seasons and Matt LaFleur was the quarterback coach.
Everybody remembers how potent the Falcons offense was in 2016. They were virtually unstoppable in terms of efficiency and moving the ball up and down the field. Matt Ryan topped it off with his first NFL MVP award.
This leads to the question that has been asked many times…what was Dan Quinn thinking? Shanahan took plenty of blame for not running the ball and eating clock in the second half of the SuperBowl loss.
Quinn should have shouldered the majority of the blame for not overriding the playcalling. That is ancient history and hindsight is 20/20.
Many thought that Quinn should have been fired immediately after that game, including yours truly. Shanahan could have and should have been made the head coach. LaFleur should have and could have been promoted to offensive coordinator.
In typical Quinn and the Falcons front office fashion, they advised that LaFleur wasn’t ready to be an offensive coordinator and they didn’t like the way he prepared.
Now he’s gotten his team to the NFC championship game. So much for not being prepared!
As for Shanahan, any knowledgable football fan knows that Shanahan is a brilliant offensive mind. He is meticulous in the execution of his weekly gameplan and scheme.
Every offense he has coached has always had a vision and an identity. Neither of which the Falcons have had since he left. A vision and identity from an offensive perspective have been severely lacking for the past three seasons.
Shanahan is a master at getting players to execute at a high level. There is no doubt that had he been retained and named the head coach of the Falcons, the high-octane, fast pace offense would still be the identity of this team.
The Falcons front office failed miserably by retaining Quinn and letting both Shanahan and LaFleur go. It has come back to bite them in a major way.
The 2019 NFC championship game will be a bitter and painful reminder for Falcons fans as to what might have been. If only they would have done the right thing and promoted both from within, the past three seasons might have had a highly different outcome.
Again, though, hindsight is 20/20. In an ideal world, things would be different. Then again, the Falcons never cease to amaze their long-suffering fanbase.